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WATCH: The Putin Files: PBS interviews John Beyrle

Published here as part of our ongoing look at the mythology and reality of Putin during the run-up to the presidential election. This is one of several lengthy interview conducted by PBS and used in part for its regrettably one-sided documentary Putin’s Revenge, which we featured here a while back. PBS have made the full interviews available online as part of their “media transparency project.” John Beyrle is a former US ambassador to Russia We think this interview in particular is worth watching in full.

Beyrle comes over as an intelligent observer of a different calibre to the profoundly ignorant and arrogant commentators we see in much Western mainstream media. Yet his group-think or institutional blindness is still very much on display.

He acknowledges the severe blow dealt to US/Russian relations by US abandonment of the ABM treaty. He acknowledges the encroachments of NATO. He acknowledges that Russia perceived US meddling in Georgia and Ukraine as a threat to their “near-abroad”.

Yet he still claims to find the cooling of relations between the two countries to be baffling, and views Putin’s famous 2007 Munich speech as being an arrogant assertion of independence rather than an almost inevitable, or at least predictable, result of the US actions he details.


  1. Fascinating comments! I was hopeful to get some observations on my observation of this video….. No ideologue here. Beyrle is balanced, objective, and realistic in his approach. He is no Putin apologist either. My take is, he is old money ( his group-think or institutional blindness is still very much on display). Beyrle is the last of a dieing breed who has been driven out (via Machiavellian intrigues) by new money. ( the profoundly ignorant and arrogant commentators we see in much Western mainstream media ). New money, being rapacious ideologues, are NOT ignorant themselves. They know their target audience, the street (their demographic), to be dangerously stupid (or easily lead, depending on which side of the coin the situation is viewed) and they pander, correspondingly, to this stupidity. They do it far more effectively then old money ever did. Maybe because new money has closer histories to the street. And maybe because old money can no longer defend itself against the relentless onslaught of new money’s Skinnerian engineered efficient street. Beyrle is the last of his kind, old money. New money has mercilessly taken control of social, political, and economical spheres and old money must submit to them. The Machiavellian aspect! We mourn the loss of this older and wiser breed.

  2. Frank says

    Yeltsin the reluctant but sincere democrat, like when he bombarded the Russian Parliament in 1993.

  3. Marcus says

    I posted this on another thread – but got no response! Does no one think this is worthy of discussion? Putin weeping in public for no discernible reason in September 2014. Some hysterical commenters at the time thought he knew something they didn’t and was weeping for the end of the world or some such. I have no idea.But it’s intriguing as an aspect of his personality and as a possible pointer — in’t it??

    We’re all familiar with the ghastly fake scenes of Obama, Cameron and the rest fake ‘crying’ to order at some scene of public mourning. It’s so fake it’s cringeworthy and shameful.

    So for contrast look at this. It’s not a funeral or any staged mourning, it’s just an official ceremony in Mongolia, but while the Russian national anthem is playing Putin visibly actually weeps.

    If you watch the clip you can see his chest and shoulders heave as he struggles to control it, and his slightly shame-faced attitude, which probably all us blokes can relate to. He seems to be sobbing almost uncontrollably. At one point he wipes his face with the back of his hand.

    It’s touching. And very real and human. It has actually increased my respect for him and my preparedness to think he may be a real person. But that said it seems a quite extreme response. He must have heard his national anthem about once a day for the last 18 years. Bit worrying when a head of state is that tightly wound even if it does humanise him. This was late 2014 by the way.

    • Marcus says

      Man how hard is it to get a conversation going around here? This place used to have lively discussions!

      Ok anyhow I give up :-/

      • George Cornell says

        I took it , like you, of a striking juxtaposition between the Western Press’s manufactured image of Putin and the human reality evidenced in this clip.

        I started questioning the official profile when Victoria ‘fuck the EU” Nuland – Geoffrey Pyatt’s tape was made public. Nothing has come along which makes me have any belief in the Press portrayal. Angels are unlikely to reach the top in any political system, to be sure.

      • Marcus, never give up, never say die. Without your picture of Putin’s tears I would never have confided in public (as I now do) what I confided to a friend some years ago: that I thought Putin was human — a rare thing indeed among today’s politicians. As a rule I believe Auden’s rule: public faces are neither nice nor kind.

        But I saw a picture of Putin’s divorce, and the man looked shattered. Reminded me of an uncle who took cyanide because his wife ran away. Also came across a picture of Putin sitting apart at a party, quietly picking out tunes on the piano. By the way, 2014 was a particularly stressful year for Russia: facing a combined attack by NATZO on two fronts, Syria and the Ukraina. General world-wide admiration for Putin’s statesmanship followed his successful handling of those twin threats; but my feeling that the man might be human arose some time before that — and, as in your case, from pictures of him in unguarded moments.

        For your calibration data, I also think The Two Harolds were human: Wilson and MacMillan. And Mandela, Luthuli, Ghandi, Castro and FDR. I do not regard TB.Liar as anything less than a demon running “a human body that walks and talks and puts on clothes” (Dante, Inferno, the Last Circle). The rest of today’s politicians are not human — just “glass eyed, scurvy politicians who pretend to see what they do not” (King Lear).

    • Carrie says

      I watched the video expecting to see some stupid thing that didn’t measure up to what you said at all. You know a typical “Putin is crap” video.

      But yes. He actually is sobbing. And frankly that worries me a bit. I hope other people watch it and comment.

    • How real is this footage? There were press articles covering that visit and none of them mention Putin broke down and sobbed. Which they likely would.

      • bevin says

        There were a million reasons for a man to weep in 2014. They still exist, we ought all to be weeping continuously. And bursting into tears whenever we think of our country-which ever it might be.
        What is the problem? Ought he to be pretending not to be moved? Or ought he not to be open to being moved?

  4. George Cornell says

    Virtually unmentioned in the Putin anti-Russian debate is the entire issue of cheating at the Olympics. Russia has been suitably pilloried and penalized for systematic organized cheating, based on the important revelations of one or two whistleblowers.

    But the Western Press has piled on but in a way that is decidedly one-sided or imbalanced. Cheating in sports is hardly a Russian problem or invention and the Western Press with the collaboration of International Athletic organizations, and the widely publicized McLaren report seem to have used Russia as a convenient scapegoat to cloud or cover up what is a widespread endemic issue. There have been numerous positive tests among American and other athletes and good evidence of cover ups by national Olympic Committees , notably the American.

    For those unfamiliar, the stories of FloJo. Carl Lewis, Wade Exxum and the sprinter who outed FloJo formerly drug control czar at the American Olympic Committee makes for surprising reading.

    • How well-sourced are these particular allegations of Russian infamy?

      • George Cornell says

        Very, very. See the McLaren report inter Alia. But the problem goes back decades, for much of the athletic world, not just the Russians. The allegations of whistleblowers in the Russian case are supported independently and objectively by WADA testing results on old samples, with better techniques.

        • Catte says

          You think WADA is really independent – given the current geopolitical realities? And you don’t think the fact the report relies so heavily on the testimony of a guy who was fired from his job in Russia and them emigrated to the USA before spilling the beans about Russian state involvement in athlete doping is just a tiny question mark over its reliability?

          • George Cornell says

            I like your skeptical bent. As someone who has been lied to his whole life, by his church, by his government, by his teachers, and especially by his Press, there aren’t enough grains of salt to go around. I share it.

            But I happen to know a lot about this issue and have studied it independently as a senior academic. Don’t lose sight of my main point. That cheating has been ubiquitous and the Russians have been guilty scapegoats.

            • Catte says

              Ok, you believe doping is equally as much a problem in the West as in Russia, and you may be right. But bottom line is you are using your claim of evenhandedness to leverage acceptance of the McLaren report without bothering to consider its objective validity.

              How valid can any report be when it’s issued in such an atmosphere of xenophobia and political manipulation, based on the testimony of a guy who has been sacked by the authority ‘on trial’ and which specifically refused to consider any points or explanations offered by the people accused?

              There’s only one rational answer to that question, whatever intuitions you may quite rightly have about the underlying truths.

              • George Cornell says

                Catte, you are making some assumptions which are unwarranted. Actually the whistleblower came along in step with better assays and it was possible to test the veracity of the claims against saved samples. This was indeed independent and even this has been confirmed by yet another way of assessing cheating which is in the publication process.

                We aren’t far apart here but don’t defend the indefensible. There have been fair-minded people involved in this process, you will have to take my word for it.

              • George Cornell says

                As an afterthought I want to make clear that the current geopolitical climate has very much to do with the messages on cheating. The current narrative which tries to make it out that cheating is all about the Russians is indeed both false, demonstrably, and a product of that climate. This includes the McLaren report but to understand its bias those behind the scenes gave McLaren a very narrow remit, I.e. The Russians. I hope that helps.

  5. jantje says

    I defenitely have something against the state of Israel as I do to the state ofu.s.a.,but not of it’s people ,be it jews or americans.The spin ofcourse is that if you are against Israel you are against jews,rediculous.

  6. says

    Is US exceptionalism arrogant independance? Israel controls the USA and they are the real power you cannot criticise.

    • uncle tungsten says

      You certainly can criticise the Israel governments grip on USA policy. See Russia Insider for a brilliant critique and bold statement. Ghere are a number of reports and they have the other media wetting their nappies.

      • The RI statement was an attack on Jewish people not on Israel. We think it was misguided

      • George Cornell says

        RI has had several articles on Israel. Could either you or admin provide a link to the article/statement you seem to disagree about?

          • George Cornell says

            Ok, have read it. This would indeed be against the Jewish people if what is said is untrue. But it would be helpful to know what parts are untrue. This seems like a good forum to clarify inaccuracies and errors in such an article. Why has no systematic rebuttal appeared? it would be helpful in the context of this site, as the behaviour of BBC and Guardian moderators of comments related to Israel has aroused suspicions.

            I am sure in other contexts you would and should not tolerate general anti-ethnic or ad hominem comments, and your assertion that this article is against Jewish people would be greatly validated by showing where this article is demonstrably in error.

            Surely you do not think the opinion of ‘many’ is sufficient rebuttal of the article you kindly linked for me.. The relentless Putin-bashing in the MSM has been systematic, seemingly orchestrated, but not evidence-based, and the offGuardian threads have been hugely helpful in showing this. Any light shed on this would be gratefully received.

            • Alexander Mercouris and has already answered your questions in the Duran but briefly:

              1) The article claims that words such as “Zionist”, “war party”, “Bilderberger”, “neocon” etc are euphemisms for ‘Jewish.’ Clearly they are not, since many Jewish people are none of these things and many neocons, Zionists etc are not Jewish.

              2) The article claims Russophobia is almost uniquely Jewish when it simply is not. Russophobia has been a European phenomenon for centuries and many of the most prominent current Russophobes are not Jewish

              3) Ideas and opinions should be opposed with ideas and opinions, not with slurs and generalised arguments for dismissal. We oppose neoconservatism because it is divisive, dangerous and creates human misery, not because it is supported by X-number of Jews.

              See Mercouris in the Duran and this article on Russia Feed

              • George Cornell says

                Thanks Admin for providing these links. There is a common tendency to take articles which one disagrees with and try to discredit them by attacking one part , its weakest, and then summarily dismiss the whole, or the person, as a debating tactic. There was a lot said and Russia demonization surely may have untraceable roots.

            • In my humble opinion, upon viewing said article, it screamed out ‘anti-semitism’ and has done great damage to Russian Insider. As such, I’m pleased a number of contributors feel as I do. I’m not one for censorship, but this article should not be distributed in Leftist circles, leave that honour to the Right.

              • George Cornell says

                Let me ask again. A rebuttal of the arguments and claims made would be helpful.
                Screaming that the article screams anti-semitism, in the opinion of a single individual is not evidence-based, even though he claims he is one of many. So Chris Rogers now claims to be speaking for many. Where have we heard that before?

                Certainly some of the claims are not easily rebutted but bringing some fact and light to this discussion seems preferable to emotive statements. Chris Rogers believes this article should not not be distributed in leftist circles. And who decides what should? Chris Rogers? Or someone else who claims to speak for others? If so has he done a systematic survey and can he provide some data?

                He says he is not for censorship but then asks for it. Not content with categorical censorship, he wants to apply it just to “leftist circles”. Once again who will be deciding the perimeters? Chris Rogers and the “many”? I am reminded of a neighbour who said in the 60’s that he had nothing against black people, he just didn’t want any of them around his house.

                • George,
                  A longer response was submitted, but lost in the ether I’m afraid. Now, and just for the record, please repeat my opening sentence, namely: “In my humble opinion”, given said statement, I speak for myself, so please don’t infer I’m speaking for anyone else. I stand by what I’ve stated, namely, the article by focusing solely on Jewish folk is ‘anti-semitic’.

                  • George Cornell says

                    Thanks for clarifying Chris. Historically banning books and ideas not to mention sexuality has tended to come from those whose personal interests were being threatened, rather than from benign avuncular concern. There has to be very good reason to do it if at all.

          • That is the correct link. I have read the piece and I approve it. Read GK Chesterton, “The New Jerusalem”, published 1920 but prophetic. GKC was a Christian Zionist well before the US backwoodsmen made this popular, and a chauvinistic little Englander who approved of the Jews likewise having a little country they would be willing to die for. But unlike any other writer on the new Zion, he foresaw the very problem that RI has only now woken up to: if the Jews want to live in little Israel, they must give up their ownership of most of the money in the world, and they must relinquish their over-representation among top positions in every other country in the world. Otherwise the new Jerusalem would become just another Globalist London or New York — and in my view even more globally destructive than those Anglo-Capitalist cities.

            • Catte says

              “The Jews” don’t want to live in little Israel. “The Jews” don’t want any single thing because they are not a single entity. They are a race of human beings with diverse opinions and desires. This is the reductionist evil at the heart of racism – diminishing a group of people to a simplistic “other.” It is as useless, erroneous and racist to ascribe a singular motive to “the Jews” as it is to do the same to “the Russians.”

              We encourage people who comment here to aim a bit higher on the intellectual and ethical spectrum.

              • @Catte. It would take too much space to list the reasons why I applaud your every word above — and gave a like. Let it suffice for explanation that I live in Israel, have Jewish family and Jewish friends, and my best of such friends belong to the Israeli Communist Party. As for racism, as soon as Obombast came to power a friend in the USA accused me of racism because I objected to the way Obomber started piling fresh corpses on top of the heap bequeathed him by Bush and Clinton. So I have been there before.

                What worries RI and me is well known in Statistics and Game Theory: a small group acting in concert can outvote a large group voting disparately. Consider this result from the Israel Census of 2014: “most popular name in Israel in 2014, among some 2,650 newborns, was Muhammad, according to a report released by the Central Bureau of Statistics”. The Muslim population of Israel is only 1/5th as large as the Jewish; and they do not produce significantly more babies. What swings the statistics in their favour is, the Muslims restrict their choice; they “vote for” traditional Muslim names like Mohammed, whereas the Jews “vote disparately” — they scatter their “vote”, some choosing traditional Old Testament and many choosing modern Israeli or foreign baby names. So baby Muhammed wins the vote.

                (I hope you do not take offence if I continuie to refer to “the Jews” as before, and now add “the Muslims”).

                • Obviously it’s not racist to condemn Obama for the same crimes as Bush – in fact there’s covert white-guilt racism involved in trying to excuse him (which was one reason why he was such a handy puppet).

                  You don’t have a problem with Jews having undue influence. You have a problem with certain ideas having undue influence. You think this is due in part to an unrepresentative number of Jewish people in high places. But maybe that needs more thought.

                  If they were replaced by Gentiles who shared the same views – do you think that would be an improvement?

                  Or put it another way – would you rather see them replaced by Zionist Gentiles or non-Zionist Jews?

                  The problem is the accretion of undue influence by Zionists. The fact many of the Zionists are also Jewish may be a result of the problem – but it isn’t the problem

                • George Cornell says

                  I like your clarity and point well made, applicable to Jewish influence in the US.

            • George Cornell says

              i am very uncomfortable with asking Jews to give up positions they have earned just because they are Jewish. You don’t mean that, do you?

              • @George Cornell. If your question is to me, I am not “asking Jews to give up positions they have earned just because they are Jewish”; like GKC I am in favour of Jews holding positions by merit in fair and open competition with Gentiles — both in Israel as in other countries. But Jews are definitely over represented in countries outside Israel, and I do not believe that academic Jews are 10 times more learned than academic Gentiles, nor are business Jews 100 times more astute than their Gentile competitors. Nor is Israel 10 to 100 times more worthy of aid — both monetary, military, diplomatic and in trade concessions — than other little countries. BDS is impossible because Israel is supported by the Rothschild clan and other Jewish capitalists: the greatest concentration of money power the world has ever seen. Gentile politicians like TB.Liar (now a director in House of Rothschild), Gordon Brown and Sarkozy (now directors in Rothschild arms company Carlyle) and the Clinton family (recently married into Rothschild bank Goldman Sachs) have been laying waste to the Middle East with destructive wars against Israel’s neigbours: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, with Iran perpetually in the cross hairs. If this combination of global Jewish money power and Jewish over-representation in foreign countries is allowed to go on, I predict that Jerusalem / Tel Aviv will become an even more destructive force in the world than London and Washington / New York have been.

                • George Cornell says

                  I am not in a position to comment about business leaders, and I share your concerns about what has happened and continues to happen in the Middle East.

                  As Vexarb points out, all it takes to leverage influence is vote as a monolith and position oneself as a group mono thematically. This has been true in Quebec for the nationalists as much as it is true for the Middle East. There is no better indication that this happens than the extremely predictable take on any world event by disparate commentators, especially on the Middle East, and the stereotyped violent resistance to the notion that there is any such phenomenon, which is flat earth-like in its preposterousness.

                  No, Jewish academics are not 10x more able but they are very able. I think much of this has to do with selective breeding in ancient Jewish communities, where the smartest men became rabbis and reproduced preferentially. But that is just a guess, nevertheless one shared privately and by many at a Cold Spring Harbor meeting on intelligence, some years ago.

                  It would be important to avoid unnecessary strategies like taking the credit for the work of others, and any collusion in hiring practices or promotion, for any advantaged group. If that is in line with your concerns

                  • @George, Catte. Yes, unfair competition and collusion under cover of a PC taboo of silence are definitely among my concerns, and RI has given them a voice. I believe what George says about the Jews probably having been selected for intelligence by going through a series of “survival sieves”; but I also believe, as Catte points out, that statistical differences between different groups of humans are tiny compared to the differences between individuals within those groups. In other words, contrary to the great Dr. Jim Watson, I was not surprised when an old Woman (whom he confided to me he was trying to get rid of at Cold Spring Harbour) won the Nobel Prize; and I shall be even less surprised if the next winner there is a Negro.

                    Now, to answer Catte specifically, of course “We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against Principalities and Powers”. As with GKC in the aftermath of WW1 so with me a century later. GKC prophesied that, when the Jews return to the New Jerusalem, there would be competition between the Religious Jew and the Capitalist Jew; and he feared, as I do, that the Capitalist would win. My beloved headmaster at Jewish Primary School taught us “Do not lie, do not steal, do not kill, love the Lord God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself”. By the door of every classroom was written the Golden Rule of Hillel and of his disciple, Rabbi Yeshuah of Nazareth. Those are what I call Religious Jews. Now consider the Capitalist Jews: they lie, they steal, they kill, and they believe like Charles Darwin that, by the immutable Law of Compound Interest, one favoured group of competitors will supplant the others and dominate the environment. And their motto is “By way of deception shall we wage war”.

  7. John A says

    You can tell when the Guardian is lying. They don’t open comments. Classic case this morning with the Observer blaming Putin for all the woes of Syria.

  8. “He acknowledges….” and “yet he still claims…”. Not contradictory, given his profession. Everyone knows that an ambassador is a gentleman who is paid (and well paid) to go abroad and lie (with the greatest possible sang froid and suavity) for his country.

  9. rtj1211 says

    And the US MSM speaks truth to power?!

    Really, which MSM challenges the CIA on their role in murdering JFK, their role in the Warren Commission cover up?

    Which MSM was challenging the war agenda in Iraq, rather than trumpeting Cheney propaganda?

    Which MSM challenges the farce of oligarchy in the US wrongly portrayed as democracy??

    No one in the US speaks truth to US power…..ever……

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